Midsize SUVs are great vehicles for dog owners because they have a lot more cargo space for large crates while still having enough room for family and friends.
Durable interiors that are easy to clean are also ideal if you have large working dogs or pets that like to roll around in the great outdoors.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best midsize SUVs for dog owners and check out the features that make them ideal.
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1. Subaru Ascent
The Subaru Ascent is a popular choice for families with active lifestyles because it has great ground clearance and comes standard with a very capable all-wheel drive system.
Subaru’s StarTex water-repellent seat upholstery is great for dog owners because it’s very easy to clean and is more durable than leather. However, it’s only available in the Onyx Edition.
The Limited and Touring trim levels come with leather upholstery, which is also a good choice for dog owners, but it can get punctured or scratched up by dogs if it’s not properly taken care of.
The Premium has stain-resistant cloth upholstery while the base model has regular cloth seats. Either way, it’s better to use seat covers if you want to avoid brushing off dog hair all the time.
Subaru also offers lots of pet-friendly accessories like cargo liners, harnesses, ramps, a collapsible kennel, and seatback protectors.
With the rear seats folded down, the Ascent has a very generous 47.5 cubic feet of cargo space, so there’s a lot of room for larger dog crates and kennels.
All trim levels have three-zone climate control and air vents in the third row to keep your pets comfortable while they’re lounging in the back.
The Ascent is also available as a 7-seater with second-row captain’s chairs which allow easy access to the back without having to open the liftgate, but these don’t fold completely flat unlike the bench seats.
2. Toyota 4Runner
The Toyota 4Runner is one of the most capable off-roaders in the midsize SUV category because it’s equipped with a real four-wheel drive system that has a low-range mode for really rough terrain.
It doesn’t come with a third row as standard, but it is available as an option on some trim levels like the SR5 Premium and Limited.
What makes the 4Runner really unique is its roll-down rear glass, which allows your dogs to stick their head out the back even if they’re confined to the rear cargo area while you’re driving.
Toyota’s SofTex seat upholstery is standard on most trim levels. SofTex is more durable than both leather and cloth seats, and is also water resistant and very easy to clean.
Only the base SR5 and TRD Off-Road models have cloth seats, while the Limited has leather seats.
Behind the second-row seats, there’s 47.2 cubic feet of cargo space which is spacious enough for a medium to large dog and a few buddies.
The second-row also folds flat, albeit with a slight bump, if you need even more room.
The optional third-row seats don’t affect cargo capacity too much because they can be folded completely flat when not in use.
Toyota also offers a huge range of pet-friendly accessories such as seat covers, door panel guards, booster seats, hammocks, harnesses, tethers, and waterproof floor liners.
If you spend most of your time on pavement, the three-row Highlander and the more spacious Grand Highlander are more comfortable and have even more space in the back.
3. Honda Pilot
The Honda Pilot has always been an excellent family vehicle that offered lots of space and great reliability.
The fourth generation Pilot, which debuted as a 2023 model, now sports even more room, a more truck-like appearance and an upgraded all-wheel drive system.
Cargo space with the third-row seats in place is 18.5 cubic feet. But once they’re folded down, it goes up to 48.5 cubic feet, which is large enough for several dog crates.
If you need even more space, the second-row seats also fold flat giving you a total of 87 cubic feet.
Cloth seats are standard on the two lower trim levels. Once you get to the EX-L model, leather seats become standard.
The more off-road ready TrailSport model comes with captain’s chairs for the second-row, as well as synthetic leather seats, which should be more durable for your furry pals.
The bench seats in the other trim levels can be easily converted to captain’s chairs by taking out the middle seat, which can then be conveniently stowed in the back under the cargo floor.
The Pilot’s ground clearance is also fairly low at 7.3 inches so senior dogs won’t have to jump as high to get in and you’ll have an easier time loading heavy dogs inside.
4. Chevy Traverse
The Chevy Traverse is the largest in the midsize SUV segment and offers tremendous value for money for the amount of space it offers.
With the third-row seats folded down it’s got a whopping 57.8 cubic feet of cargo space, so you’ll have no trouble fitting several dog crates or having a puppy party in the back.
With the second-row seats folded down, the Traverse has 98.2 inches of cargo space.
The base model has a retail price of just under $35,000, but the lower trim levels only come with cloth seats which are harder to maintain if you have pets.
To get leather seats, which are easier to maintain, you’ll have to spring for the LT Leather or higher trim level which starts at just over $40,000.
LT and higher trim levels also come with captain’s chairs as standard; this includes the lower priced LT Cloth trim which has the regular cloth seats.
The Traverse’s lower ground clearance of 7.5 inches also makes it more dog friendly compared to its more off-road oriented rivals.
5. Volkswagen Atlas
The midsize Volkswagen Atlas replaces the Touareg and sits above the Tiguan in the U.S. market.
Aside from being one of the most spacious in the class, it’s also very modern, refined and offers very good value for money, especially considering its European roots.
If you want a comfortable and classy looking family hauler the Volkswagen Atlas, as well as the sportier two-row Atlas Cross Sport is a good choice.
The Atlas has 20.6 cubic feet of space in the back with all seats up. But once you fold the third row down, you get an impressive 55.5 cubic feet of cargo space.
None of the Atlas trim levels have cloth seats, so even with the base SE model, which retails for less than $40,000, you get synthetic V-Tex leather upholstery that is far easier to maintain.
All trim levels come with heated and ventilated seats which provide additional comfort in different climates.
Three-zone climate control is standard on all models so you can keep your pets perfectly comfortable no matter where they are.
Volkswagen also offers pet-friendly accessories like the Bumperdillo bumper guard and weather proof rubber floor mats.
6. Ford Explorer
The Ford Explorer is largely responsible for transforming SUVs into family friendly vehicles when it debuted in the early 1990s.
It’s still one of the best selling vehicles in the U.S. today and is also quite popular as a police vehicle and K9 unit.
Although police K9 vehicles are significantly modified to be very rugged, the civilian versions of the Ford Explorer are still very capable dog haulers.
With the third-row seats folded down, the Explorer has 47.9 cubic feet of cargo space which places it in the upper echelon of the class just a few decimals below the Toyota Highlander.
It also comes with a range of powertrains starting with a base turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, a more fuel efficient hybrid, and a 400 hp 3.0-liter V6.
The base and XLT models only get cloth seats which isn’t ideal for dog owners, but the higher trim levels get either simulated or real leather upholstery.
All models come with three-zone climate control while second-row captain’s chairs come standard with the XLT and higher trim levels, but bench seats are also available as an option.
Other pet-friendly options and dealer-installed accessories include harnesses, barriers, seat covers, hammocks, and all-weather floor mats.
7. Kia Sorento
The Kia Sorento is one of the smallest three-row midsize SUVs in the market but it offers a lot of value for money.
It sits below the highly rated Telluride in Kia’s lineup, although it has the advantage of having additional hybrid powertrains aside from its regular gas engine.
The Sorento Hybrid has similar fuel economy numbers compared to the roomier Toyota Highlander Hybrid at 37 mpg combined, but the Sorento PHEV adds up to 34 miles of electric range, which translates to less overall fuel consumption if it’s mostly used for shorter trips and average length commutes.
Cargo capacity for the Sorento with the third-row seats folded flat comes out to 38.5 cubic feet which is pretty average, but isn’t all that bad considering there are lots of larger midsize SUVs with much lower numbers.
All Sorentos also come standard with captain’s chairs for easy access to the third row and rear cargo area.
Dog owners will also appreciate the SynTex synthetic leather upholstery that comes with most trim levels and at a lower price point than all other three-row SUVs.
Only the base non-hybrid model has a cloth interior while the SX models have real leather upholstery.
Another plus for dog owners is the Sorento’s lower ride height of 6.9 inches which makes it easier to get into, especially for smaller or senior dogs.